The A’s are a young team that revolves around their starting pitching and supporting defense. The starting pitching, which led the league with 103 quality starts, will most likely remain intact for next season, but the infield could be without one of its most skilled players: 2B Mark Ellis.
Ellis, 33, is the oldest member on Oakland’s 40-man roster, and has an option for the 2011 season worth about $6 million. The A’s do have a tough choice with Ellis, who has spent his entire career with the green-and-gold, and who has, for the most part, played well during his career.
This season, Ellis hit .291/.358/.381 with 5 homers and 49 RBIs in 124 games. Ellis did spend some of the year on the disabled-list, and had his shares of up’s and down’s. Ellis hit .227 in July, and then followed up August with a .217 average. Many skeptics wondered how the A’s would justify picking up Ellis’ $6 million option after these two lousy months of play.
Fortunately for Ellis, however, the second-baseman hit an incredible .413/.465/.519 in September. Ellis did, however, come short of 10 home runs this season. His total of five is the lowest total in his career, and snapped a streak of five seasons of 10 or more home runs.
Despite being considered an oft-injured player throughout his career, Ellis still provides a veteran leadership presence throughout the clubhouse and still plays incredible defense. This season, Ellis made three errors, and posted a .995 FPCT. Back in 2006, the A’s 2B committed just two errors all year and posted a .997 FPCT.
The A’s may be going younger, but right now they don’t have any prospects quite ready enough to tackle second-base at the big-league level. The A’s could always negotiate and restructure Ellis’ contract (maybe offer him a two-year deal?). But like always, baseball is full of gambles. Will the A’s opt to go younger, or will they keep Ellis around for another year or two?